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Pasion Latin Fusion – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Pasion Latin Fusion Cuisine on Lomas

Pasion Latin Fusion Cuisine on Lomas

In my experience, food and passion always intertwine.
Passion is food for the soul’s mood at any particular time.”
Tammy Mollai

Robert Irvine, host of the Food Network’s Restaurant: Impossible show has some nerve!  In an episode which first aired in March, 2014, the tough-talking British mesomorph had the audacity to tell America that Pasion Latin Fusion wasn’t the beautiful, graceful swan with which many of us had fallen in love.  Although he didn’t directly call Pasion an ugly duckling paddling about aimlessly, Irvine certainly intimated that things at Pasion weren’t as rosy as some of us may have thought. 

The premise of Restaurant: Impossible is that within two days and on a budget of $10,000,  Irvine will transform a failing American restaurant with the goal of helping to restore it to profitability and prominence.  To make the show entertaining, any existing dysfunction or drama in the restaurant’s day-to-day operations is spotlighted in the fashion of all reality shows.  If you’ve ever been to Pasion Latin Fusion, words like failure, dysfunction and drama won’t ever come to mind.  Since its launch in 2011, reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, much moreso than reviews for other “failing” restaurants featured on Restaurant: Impossible.

Chef Elvis Bencomo shows off some of the design work completed by the Food Network's Restaurant: Impossible show

Chef Elvis Bencomo shows off some of the design work completed by the Food Network’s Restaurant: Impossible show

While the Food Network’s preview synopsized the issues at Pasion as “tension between Monica and their main investor, Elvis’s brother, and a menu that’s leaving customers confused and frustrated,” the most obvious revelation when the episode aired is that Elvis, Monica and Orlando Bencomo are extremely likeable and extraordinarily passionate about their restaurant.  If the Food Network came to Pasion expecting the dysfunction and drama of a soap opera, they instead got a true feel good story accentuating the love of a beautiful family. 

Robert Irvine’s renovation of Pasion was much more than cosmetic though that’s what visitors will notice first.  The interior has been wholly transformed from a milieu of dark jumbled gracelessness into a bright, airy and intimate two-level dining room.  The menu has also been revamped, both in content and in style.  All menu items are now clearly described so there’s no room for confusion.  Some eighteen items make up the “bocaditos” section of the menu.  Described as “Latin Street Food, served as it’s prepared,” bocaditos are appetizers  prepared in the inevitable Chef Elvis manner.  There are only six Platos Principales or main courses, but they’re so varied and good you won’t need more.

The redesigned interior of Pasion Latin Fusion

The redesigned interior of Pasion Latin Fusion

Pasion Latin Fusion is the brainchild of  Elvis  and Monica Bencomo, a husband and wife duo with (dare I say it again) passion for the melding of diverse and dynamic Latin flavors.  The third in the family triumvirate who own and operate Pasion is Orlando Bencomo, Elvis’s brother and main investor in the restaurant.  Orlando, a veteran of Afghanistan, runs the front of the house.  If the Food Network exposure gave any of them a big head, you certainly can’t tell.

Elvis is originally from Chihuahua and to say he’s a culinary genius may be a vast understatement. He’s a classically trained chef, but that’s a starting point. The genesis of his culinary creations is his creativity, imagination and willingness to experiment with ingredient and flavor combinations. He’s a true student of the craft, constantly reading and researching what it takes to create the foods that reflect his passion. It’s unlikely he ever studied Peruvian Ceviche 101 at his culinary alma mater, but one bite of his ceviche of the day and you might swear you’re in Peru. His arepas are reminiscent of those prepared in Venezuela, his chimicchuri as good as you’ll find in Argentina.  Get the picture?

Fire and Ice Tostada Tuna | Coconut | Habanero | Passion Fruit Sorbet

Fire and Ice Tostada Tuna

Monica, the statuesque occasional hostess with the radiant smile is originally from Chicago, but admits to growing up culinarily unadventurous, preferring a diet of burgers and fries to some of the legendary foods of the City of Big Shoulders. Today she’s happy to have broken the chain (my friend Ryan Scott was so proud when he interviewed her on his wonderful radio program) and loves to try new and different dishes. Elvis is more than happy to oblige with a menu unlike any in Albuquerque–one in fact that’s reminiscent of Peruvian and Latin fusion restaurants we’ve visited in San Francisco and Las Vegas.

Together Monica and Elvis have not only made beautiful food together, they actually enjoyed working together when Monica ran the front of the house. When I asked them to pose for a photograph and my camera stalled, Elvis commented that he didn’t mind, he could hold Monica forever. How’s that for passion? When we asked about the high quality of the grapes served with one dessert, they smiled broadly and admitted to have upped their consumption of grapes (along with wine and cheese) after having seen the animated movie Ratatouille. How can you not love that?

Pasión Fruit Salsa

Pasión Fruit Salsa

Pasion is situated in the Lomas edifice which once housed Capo’s, a long time Albuquerque Italian food fixture. Few remnants of its predecessor remain especially now that Pasion has been renovated.  It is at once both festive and romantic, the former bolstered by upbeat salsa music and the latter facilitated by low light. Appropriately the exterior signage includes a single red rose, a symbol for romantic passion. A sole fireplace suspended from the ceiling is both attractive and functional, adding the promise of a crackling flame on a blustery evening.  Two tiered seating includes both booths and tables.

The menu is an eye-opening melange of Latin fusion with elements of Cuban, Haitian, Mexican, Peruvian, Venezuelan, Spanish, Mariscos, Argentinian and even New Mexican ingredients used in sundry and creative ways. As with true fusion, menu items have combined those elements–Argentinian chimichurri with Nicaraguan grilled steak, for example. It wouldn’t be a true fusion restaurant if diverse, sometimes disparate culinary traditions, elements and ingredients didn’t form an entirely unique genre. Pasion is a true fusion restaurant, not one which offers menu items from several Latin speaking nations.

Duck Taquitos Green and Yellow Chile | Pickled Vegetables | Mexican Cotija Cheese

Duck Taquitos

Start your Pasion experience with the agua fresca of the day. Many Mexican restaurants throughout the Duke City offer a pretty standard line-up of aguas frescas, typically horchata, limonada, sandia and melon. Many are not made in-house. At Pasion, the agua fresca of the day is not likely going to be the same old, same old you can find elsewhere. Instead Chef Elvis might surprise you with a virgin margarita agua fresca, complete with a salted rim, or he might combine several seemingly disparate flavors to create something uniquely wonderful.

29 March 2014: Bocaditos (appetizers) are similarly non-standard fare, an impressive assemblage of innovative deliciousness. You can make a meal out of the bocaditos.  Three per person is what our server advised.  One of those bocaditos should be the pasion fruit salsa with chips.  In New Mexico, chips and salsa are pretty de rigueur, so much so that it’s a rare salsa which can distinguish itself.  The pasion fruit salsa is unique, a combination of piquancy, tropical fragrance and tanginess.  It’s a welcome respite from the usual with chips.  Now, if you like your salsa to provide the flavor element of pain, this salsa won’t do it, but it does pack enough heat to titillate your tongue.

Quesadilla Cubano Braised Pulled Pork | Shaved Ham | Swiss Cheese | Dill Pickle | Grain Mustard

Quesadilla Cubano

29 March 2014: Thanks to visits to Peruvian restaurants in San Francisco, Mexican style ceviche (typically made from raw fish marinated in citrus juices and paired with cilantro, onions and chopped tomatoes) has been a source of ho hum for me. In Pasion, my passion for ceviche has been rekindled. The menu offers two standard ceviche offerings. They start off much like other ceviche–as seafood (tuna) marinated in lime, lemon and orange juices. Then the Chef’s creativity takes over, adding jalapeños, ceviche and plenty of oomph. The Fire and Ice, for example, is a ceviche made with tuna, habanero-coconut sauce and passion fruit sorbet served with tortilla chips.  The habanero-coconut sauce most assuredly has a pleasantly piquant bite coupled with the tropical sweetness of coconut.  The passion fruit sorbet is crystallized so it doesn’t melt messily over the ceviche.  Instead, it imparts a refreshing coolness that complements the other ingredients.  This is genius!

29 March 2014: In the 1980s, restaurants such as Santa Fe’s Coyote Cafe and the West Beach Cafe in Venice, California started a trend still going strong today when they introduced duck tacos.  Being a trend doesn’t equate to being good, however.   Unlike so many others, the duck taquitos at Pasion are worth the build-up and hype.  They’re, in fact, sensational!  There’s only one thing wrong with the three rolled taquitos engorged with pickled vegetables and slow-simmered duck meat seasoned with Caribbean spices topped with yellow and green chile sprinkled with Mexican Cojita cheese.  If there are two of you, splitting that third taqito could end up in the type of drama the Food Network would appreciate.

Caribbean Chicken Adobo Rub | White Rice | Mashed Ripe Plantain | Bacon

Caribbean Chicken Adobo Rub

29 March 2014: Pasion’s delicious tribute to the island nation of Cuba is in the form of a Quesadilla Cubano, the sandwich which has become an almost de rigueur offering at restaurants which proffer sandwiches.  Most Cubanos have become so similar as to be almost as blasé  as the plain ham and cheese on which they are loosely based.  At Pasion, the Cubano is an elegant sandwich brimming with delicious ingredients: slow braised pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and whole grain mustard pressed in a hybrid corn-flour tortilla.  Bruce Schor, a long-time friend of this blog and erudite epicure gave it the ultimate compliment: “The Cubano for me was very close to the Cubanos I learned to love in Union City NJ, the second largest Cuban expat community after Miami.”  

29 March 2014: Absent from the revamped menu are several favorites, but my sense of loss is mitigated by the addition of Caribbean Chicken, the very best I’ve ever had.  Caribbean chicken isn’t synonymous with jerk chicken.  In fact, Pasion’s Caribbean chicken doesn’t have a piquant punch.  Its flavor profile is derived from non-jerk Caribbean adobo spices and from having been wrapped and roasted in banana leaves which seal in freshness and flavor.  This is outrageously good chicken–two thighs and two legs.  The chicken is served with a white rice and mashed ripe plantain mound, a surprisingly good combination.

Pasión Platano Cake Banana Custard Cake| Cinnamon and Vanilla | Passion Fruit Mousse

Pasión Platano Cake

18 September 2011: The postres (desserts) menu is a continuation of the menu’s creativity, four items of pure, unbridled temptation. The pastel de queso, a goat cheese style cheesecake with mango caramel, may be the best of the lot. It’s a better goat cheese cheesecake than was ever conjured at Rosemary’s Restaurant in Las Vegas (one of my highest rated restaurants in America before it closed). When it arrives at your table, your first inclination might be to believe the kitchen sent out something else, perhaps a scoop of ice cream drizzled over by Gerber baby food. That “scoop” is a large roundish mound of sweet and savory goat cheese, as good as any chevre dessert you’ll ever have. There’s very little crust to get in the way here. It’s mostly goat cheese cheesecake the way it should be.

18 September 2011: The other of my two passions (aside from green chile cheeseburgers) is bread pudding, a dessert some consider an anachronism. Pasion offers an Aztec Bread Pudding con Cajeta (a reduced goat’s milk caramel) with a hint of red chile that will convert even the most ardent of bread pudding protagonists. This is one of the richest, densest, most flavorful bread puddings in New Mexico, ranking number eight on Larry McGoldrick‘s top ten best bread puddings in New Mexico. What elevates this bread pudding above the rest is the red chile which imparts just a bit of that back-of-your-throat heat great chiles have. It’s not a piquant heat, but that heat is certainly noticeable. The cajeta is the only thing that can and should top this bread pudding.

Pastel De Queso: Goat cheese style cheesecake with mango caramel

29 March 2014: Yet a third dessert that might never achieve the sure to be fame and popularity of the aforementioned duo is the Pasion Platano Cake, a banana custard cake topped with passion fruit mousse.  It’s rich, sweet and tangy in every bite.  The lip-pursing tartness isn’t quite lemon-like, but it’ll excite your mouth more than a handful of pop rocks.  Notes of cinnamon and vanilla occasionally sneak the tanginess of the passion fruit and the gentle sweetness of the banana.  If it sounds as if there’s a lot going on in this dessert, that’s because there is.  There’s a taste adventure in every bite.  

Every once in a while, the city’s burgeoning and exciting culinary scene needs an infusion of passion.  That’s what you’ll find in Pasion, one of the most creative and  unique restaurants to grace the Duke City dining scene in years.  It’s the type of restaurant the citizenry should promote to visitors who believe those ill-conceived stereotypes about our cuisine.

Azteca Bread Pudding Con Cajeta: with a hint of red chile and a milk caramel sauce

Restaurant critics realize that their influence only goes so far in their own hometowns.  For years, critics from the Albuquerque Journal, Alibi, Local IQ, Larry’s Albuquerque Food Musings and of course, Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Blog have been raving about how great Pasion Latin Cuisine is.  Over the years, Pasion has earned accolades and honors galore: “Top 5 Chefs of Albuquerque”, “Best Fusion Restaurant”, “Best New Restaurant” and “Best Kid Friendly Restaurant.”  Despite all these honors and accolades, Duke City diners haven’t been beating down the doors as they should for a restaurant of this caliber.   Robert Irvine’s visit will hopefully bring in new visitors.  After one visit, they’ll certainly be back.

Pasion Latin Fusion Restaurant
722 Lomas Blvd, N.W.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 503-7880
Web Site
LATEST VISIT: 29 March 2014
1st VISIT: 18 September 2011
# OF VISITS: 4
RATING: 24
COST: $$
BEST BET:  Pastel de Queso, Azteca Bread Pudding con Cajeta, Quesadilla Cubano, Caribbean Chicken, Pasion Platano Cake, Duck Taquitos, Pasion Fruit Salsa


View Pasion Latin Fusion on LetsDineLocal.com »

Pasion Latin Fusion on Urbanspoon

  • Larry McGoldrick says:

    Gil, you gotta stop throwing new bread pudding places at me. I have lost 34 lbs in the past three-and-a-half months, and have six more to go until I can return to my favorite desert.

    This one sounds fantastic. I’ll diet harder so I can get to it sooner.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:19 AM
  • Ryan Scott says:

    Great review, Gil, and I am proud of her! My mom told me about this place last night. It’s on my short list of places to visit soon!

    September 21, 2011 at 10:13 AM
  • Tone Roams says:

    They probably went to El Pinto..

    September 22, 2011 at 11:19 AM
  • Tone Roams says:

    ^ as in the Chicago Sophisticates.. (ha)

    September 22, 2011 at 11:21 AM
  • Bruce says:

    We tried Pasion Latin Fusion today for lunch and were not dissapointed.
    We started with the Plantain Empanada appetizer. The crust was delightful, a perfect pocket for the excellent spinich and cheese filling. The peppers on the side were really a treat.
    I ordered the Churrasco Steak and was quite pleased. It was cooked exactly to order and was very tender. The chimichurri marinade really came through without overpowering the excellent flavor of the beef. The portion size was ample (at a very reasonable price) and satisfying.
    My wife ordered the Mayan Taco (a special today) and was also very impressed by the taste and creativity of the dish.
    We both feel that there is no other restaurant in the area serving such a unique and surprising menu.
    We look forward to returning soon for dinner with friends to sample more.
    A side note – we were disappointed to find at mid-day in the downtown area – that there were 1/2 dozen patrons for lunch.
    Come on Albuquerque – show some support for this great venue!
    We can’t afford to lose such a culinary gem.

    October 5, 2011 at 4:07 PM
  • Ryan Scott says:

    Ate here today for lunch. Loved it. Having them on the show in November.

    October 14, 2011 at 4:41 PM
  • Nikki says:

    I ate here recently with a group of co-workers and we were all delighted with it. They take traditional latin favorites and make them uniquely their own. Definitely stop by and try this place. It’s delicious!

    October 15, 2011 at 5:57 PM
  • Bruce says:

    Dinner last night was just as delightful and satisfying as our previous lunch visit. This time we brought friends who also enjoyed the wonderful food.
    This is definitely a keeper!
    We are really looking forward to when they begin serving breakfast.

    November 3, 2011 at 3:55 PM
  • Bob of the Village of Los Ranchos says:

    For Quick Action….a way to intro your friends etc. to Pasion….
    http://livingsocial.com/cities/35/deals/155829

    November 18, 2011 at 11:28 AM
  • Jim Millington says:

    The Child Bride and I headed off here Saturday night thoroughly expecting to be mildly disappointed. We made a conscious decision to “eat small” and split an order of Vieirias a la Cubana and Croque Senorita. No level of disappointment occurred. Everything had a strong kick to it which did not mask the great flavors. We loved it.
    So many people on this site have been extolling the virtues of bread pudding that I have often overruled the Child Bride and imbibed. Up until last night I had been universally disappointed no matter how wonderful everyone else said it was. Last night was an epiphany, the bread pudding was absolutely wonderful. Unfortunately about midnight the lead cannon ball in my stomach reminded me of why I seldom eat any desserts. I will probably never order this again but I am happy that I did once.

    December 18, 2011 at 11:23 AM
  • Bob of the Village of Los Ranchos says:

    Finally made it in Tuesday to craft a ‘safe’ meal of a Quesadilla and Black Beans. Alas, unlike many servings of “black beans” elsewhere, as well as “Glen’s” Pork n Beans from the can where you always find a token cube of (raw?) bacon, I enjoyed slices of chorizo/sausage in mine! I must also say Yum to the not so ordinary Quesadilla, with or without its tasty dipping sauce. Also, the degree of crispness and thickness of the tortilla is great for me. While not Girly-girl thin, its not so more of a Manly-Man thicknesses served elsewhere. In terms Kick, I’m saying I felt a nice Tanginess which, lacking a beer chaser, went well with the Faux Sangria which was very reasonably so priced compared to what places hit you for a (profit making) Pepsi nowadays! Now that I’ve dipped a toe in The Fusion, I need to venture on! “Chow!”

    December 24, 2011 at 11:47 AM
  • Bruce says:

    Another great meal today!
    After our empanada appetizer – I was leaning towards the green chile burger on the menu but our server mentioned that they also make as a special a “Governor’s GCCB” – topped wotj with lightly breaded, fried green chile. This was not on the menu for today but she checked with Elvis and they were happy to make it for me and my wife. We both loved it!
    Our friends ordered the cubano and the fish tacos.
    Everone was very happy!

    December 29, 2011 at 5:45 PM
  • Bruce Schor says:

    My wife and I had dinner at Pasion Latin Fusion last evening and will give it a mixed review.
    Yes, the cerviche was top notch.
    Two varieties, both excellent.
    The quesadilla was very tasty.
    My Cubano was very good and I had the Plantanillos as a side and liked them but not quotes a much as the twice fried once smashed Plantains done Cuban stlye.
    My wife has the major disappointment, the Churrasco.
    She was disappointed in the beef steak and the Chimichurri Sauce.
    We were with 3 other couples and most tried the Churrasco and almost all were disappointed.
    Thes Cubano for me was very close to the Cubanos I learned to love in Union City NJ, the second largest Cuban expat community after Miami.
    Mojo, or Elvis’ version was very good, and he had his version of the slice of pickle which always adds a layer of flavor to a proper Cubano.
    I would give them another try but I might be dining alone without the wife.

    December 31, 2011 at 9:51 AM
  • Boomer says:

    Today I had the Los FishTacos (breaded white fish tacos with chipotle sauce). I also had a few bites of Atun Ceviche (Tuna, Habanero/Coconut Sauce) and a split the Bread Pudding and Pastel De Queso (Goat cheese style cheesecake) with a friend. Overall the meal was very good. There were some very unique flavors that I have not tried before. The items that stood out the most to me was the chipotle sauce & picked cabbage on the fish tacos, The coconut sauce on the Atun Ceviche, and the goat cheese flavor on the Pastel De Queso. I thought all the flavors had a unique taste on these dishes that I have never had before; I am always up to trying something new. I am interested in trying the burger next!

    January 31, 2012 at 4:38 PM
  • Sr Plata says:

    Finally made it to Pasion with Sensei, Boomer, and Beeel. Both Boomer and I got the fish tacos and I was impressed, very awesome and something in there gave a nice kick. Boomer and I shared the Bread Pudding and Pastel De Queso and wow, what deserts, truly amazing. I am a lover of Bread Pudding and this was different than the typical type (and NO raisins), it is a must to have again. I saw someone being served the Hamburger Special and it looked mighty good with excellent quantity. Just about was to ask my friend if we should share one of those but the minutes were killing us. I really enjoyed the interior, very comfortable with many booths for a romantic night out with ones Senorena. Thanks Sensei for allowing me the honor to join you…

    January 31, 2012 at 4:57 PM
  • John L says:

    My significant other and I tried Psion Latin Fusion last night for dinner. We started sharing a shrimp ceviche (or perhaps it was a shrimp cocktail). It was delightful with a great sauce with wonderful flavors. For entrees we had the Croque Senorita and the Churrasco Steak with sides of fried plantains and Yuca fries. The bean and rice cake with the Croque Senorita had wonderful flavors but the cheese that was melted on top of it was tough—couldn’t cut it with a knife. The rice cake with the Churrasco Steak also had great flavors as did the sauce on the steak. On the down side both the steak and the pork chop were exceedingly then 1/4 to 3/8 of an inch at the most and both were tough. The fried plantains had a great sauce with them and the Yuca fries were an interesting addition. The star of the meal was clearly the Azteca bread pudding. It was extraordinary! A wonderful combination of flavors with the goat’s milk ice cream and the sauce. Yummy. Overall great flavors with few downsides.

    February 25, 2012 at 3:08 PM
  • Larry McGoldrick says:

    You’re right, Gil. The Azteca Bread Pudding is going on my list. ♥♥♥♥♥

    March 10, 2012 at 9:32 AM
  • Larry McGoldrick says:

    Spring menu started this week. So did Happy Hour. Good sangrilla.

    For heat lovers, Elvis has created a new ceviche called Fire and Ice. Marinated South African white fish (Capensis) with habañero slices and mango sorbet. Really fine.

    April 12, 2012 at 8:01 AM
  • Trish McCormick says:

    I love the quote at the beginning of the page:

    “In my experience, food and passion always intertwine.
    Passion is food for the soul’s mood at any particular time.”
    Tammy Mollai

    May 8, 2012 at 10:19 PM
  • vicguev says:

    • Went to lunch here today for my BIRTHDAY… was freezing cold and had to sit with our jackets on. We decided to stay big mistake number one. We ordered our drinks and food despite the freezing cold.
    We never received our drinks or food… the waitress served other customers and managed to serve other customers that arrived after us their drinks and food. She never once asked us if we wanted our drinks at or any time if we just might want our food. The waitress spent so much time in the back of the restaurant that we never had a chance to ask for anything or complain. She never even knew we had left. What a sad disappointment to my special lunch. Will never go back and I HOPE the sad excuse Pasion Lation Fusion call a waitress loses her job or at least had to pay for our ticket.
    Pissed I waited two hours and I’m still at my desk starving. Called the owner and he was like okay sorry it’s an old building and um… yeah I’ll look into it. I will be fair the owner did offer to make things right (But after the worst service… I mean the waitress never even brought us our drink order and I lost two hours of work). There is nothing more you could do to me except maybe spit in my food or triple charge me. It should not have happened, customer service at its worst… Don’t come here if you don’t have more than two hours to waste. Especially don’t come here if you’re hungry and plan on eating. There was no Latin Passion today and I’ll never know about any fusion……. Just cold, starving, disappointment served with a heaping cup of nothing. Thank you

    December 10, 2012 at 3:35 PM
  • MaryAnn Schaefer says:

    I’m sure most of you have heard about this, but if not, here’s a link. They are going to be on Restaurant Impossible and filming started yesterday and ends tonight. Had I heard about it sooner, I’d have shared.
    Will be interesting to see what you think, Gil, after this is over.

    http://www.abqjournal.com/320958/news/food-network-show-to-do-makeover-of-pasioacuten-latin-fusion.html

    December 19, 2013 at 8:21 PM
  • Jim Millington says:

    I had read the above comment about Restaurant Impossible coming to Pasion but thought no more about it (because I had never seen the show and because I had experience with one “made over” restaurant in the past.
    In 2011 we had dinner at Merk Bistro in San Diego and were overwhelmed by the mediocrity. Walking past in 2012 we saw a life sized cardboard cutout of Gorden Ramsey out from exclaiming the virtues of the makeover. The hostess confirmed the usual bit about him being a ranting screaming jerk but we came back the next evening anyway. Our waitress stated that he was actually very quiet, just going into the kitchen and working. In any case the food was just as mediocre as it had been except the menu had shrunk. Next year in passing we found the Merk to be gone and the hostess at the replacement restaurant had never heard of it.
    This Wednesday I was channel surfing and about to zip by Restaurant Impossible when I saw that it would involve an Albuquerque restaurant, Pasion, so we watched for the first time. It was fascinating, nothing like Ramsey, no ranting, cursing, fake drama or fake vomiting. Robert Irvine actually provided sensible help politely including redecorating & changing the names of dishes so people might have some idea what they were ordering (he actually asked native Spanish speakers if they knew what these dishes were-they didn’t). He discussed management style after deciding Elvis was a great chef but didn’t know how to be a boss and needed a dining room manager.
    We went by last night and found it crowded, I guess Restaurant Impossible has more viewers than I thought. The appearance of the dining room was actually quite elegant. We ordered the Iberian Platter, Empanadas and Banana Chip Fish Tacos which left us with plenty for breakfast this morning. Even the Child Bride was impressed which she was not the first time we were there and I plan to return. The only serious problem that was not addressed was the location. It is several blocks too far west to attract the courthouse lunch crowd who might return for dinner and being surrounded by bail bond offices doesn’t help at all. There is plenty of traffic on Lomas but people are whizzing by not looking for a place to eat, especially a nice one.

    March 28, 2014 at 9:47 AM
  • BOTVOLR says:

    Well Jim, your write-up tweaked my interest to check things out in a bit and, in the meantime, to search out more regarding Restaurant Impossible’s (RI)intervention.

    ~ 1st Gil needs to add a link to PLI’s new website: http://www.pasionlatinfusion.com/home.html

    where one can see the rather stunning changes to the interior decor! On the website, folks can review the changes to the menu that have taken effect with respect to old and new gastronomic creations to salivate for. Clicking over on Media, one can check out one of those uncomfortable looking interviews via the Larry Ahrens show (row 1, item 2). (If memory serves: Larry had a quite popular, early AM radio talk show in the ’70s (’80s?)where he’d be on in the background as we’all got ready for work which, fortunately, many of us had to go to. It was ‘easy’ listening blatherings, nothing nastily jolting ya awake, just bringing you up to date on being Blessed and Enchanted to live in Albuquerque. Then the mierda hit the fan as, IMHO, ‘corporate’ wanted to go the route of a frenetic/yelling style that was beginning where folks were going out of their gourds nationally about the world’s detritus(?) sorta speak. Alas, IMHO, that just wasn’t…our “neighbor”…Larry’s forte.) Anyway, herein he has Elvis and, “impressively?”, a guy from the YELP Blog go over what Pasion Latin Infusion is Today.
    ~ For Folks who don’t have time for that, but who are interested in what’s happened since RI’s visit and a view behind the scenes, read here http://tinyurl.com/kjz3p9u (Bravo for them! A very true lesson for any of us in other career endeavors to learn IMHO: just because I’m a teacher, doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll make a good principal; nor being a great surgeon will not make me a great manager of a butcher shoppe; nor being a great community organizer will not give me what it takes to organize a cost effective, patient centered healthcare program; nor being a great house painter will make me a great artist!!!
    “Chow!”

    March 28, 2014 at 12:11 PM
  • Bruce Schor says:

    BOTVOLR,
    Do you think your political references are too intellectual and veiled for the rest of us poor uninformed masses?
    Not the place Bobo, note the place.
    It engenders feelings that just don’t belong on this blog.
    Stick to the braggadocio regarding your prowess with the feministas, at least we get a laugh out of that.

    March 28, 2014 at 3:06 PM
    • Gil Garduno says:

      Mea culpa. As a moderator I haven’t been as vigilant as I should be in monitoring comments and censuring those of a political nature. Readers should come to this blog with the confidence that they can temporarily escape from the negativity and divisiveness of politics. There are plenty of other venues in which schismatic commentary is welcome.

      As an Air Force retiree, I’m a huge free speech advocate–and not just the free speech ideologues espouse in which you can say anything they agree with, but anything with which they don’t agree is divisive and mean-spirited. That said, this blog is not a democracy and any comments I deem to be politically alienating will henceforth be deleted.

      Gil

      March 28, 2014 at 5:42 PM
  • BOTVOLR says:

    Point taken Bruce, Gil, and others as well.
    My sincere apologies!
    BOTVOLR

    March 28, 2014 at 8:02 PM
  • Jen says:

    Thank you for posting an update on Pasion, post-RI. People tune into Restaurant Impossible expecting to find a train wreck of dysfunctional personalities, terrible service and substandard food. This wasn’t anything like that – their personalities are very likable, the food was always good, and it was obvious that Pasion wasn’t just a word on a sign; it’s who they are. I do hope that Robert’s tweaks (nice new decor!) translate into better business for a previously underrated and unsung restaurant. I plan to visit soon and take in the new vibe. Best wishes to that beautiful family.

    April 1, 2014 at 11:15 PM
  • Astrid Winegar says:

    Husband and I were mostly pleased with Pasion and do plan to go back. Really recommend the meatballs Albondigas and the quesadilla Cubano; I also found the pork chop tasty but a bit on the tough side. Ended up trading with Bob for his Cubano. Sweet potato doughnuts were pretty good; will try that bread pudding next time. A positive experience!

    April 2, 2014 at 11:18 AM
  • Jim Millington says:

    We decided to drop in last night and were amazed. We almost didn’t get seated because the place was packed. If you are going on Friday or Saturday night make reservations; They are on Open Table. The people seated next to us were from Washington DC for a conference. The had seen the show, it made a good impression and they decided decided to make reservations. I watched another RI yesterday and never will again as Irvine does tend to act like Gordon Ramsey at his most abrasive conflict firing self. Obviously Elvis, Monica and Orlando would not cooperate in fake drama and the result was a great commercial.
    I had the wonderful and unique Quesadilla Cubano while my Bride repeated her universal pattern in that she had the great Fish Tacos last time and didn’t die. Thus she had to repeat it this time and will until the end of time. We finished with the Pastel de Queso which I am certain we will never find anywhere else.

    April 6, 2014 at 11:47 AM
  • BOTVOLR says:

    Took my 2 daughters who ventured having the jaw-dropping La Governadora Angus Beef Burgers. If ever there is a need for a pictographic for the word “humongous”, this is it. After ladylikingly mashing them down a bit, they rated them as great. One S-i-L gave a Thumbs-Up to the Quesadilla Cubano as did the other to his Fish Taco. The latter was my very first taste of this ‘traditional Mexican?’ offering and I might even have the concept again if all are like Elvis’. Alas, if asked what might enhance the tacos, I have to note that the French Fries could be crisper for it and the other plates.
    I’m glad I took to heart Jim’s observation and thus made a reservation cuz Saturday night was 90% full. Nevertheless our Waitgal and servers were most efficient/attentive and seemed to handle the rest of the house as well. Speaking of the house, PLF staff and Restaurant Impossible did a great job with the new decor per RI’s frugal budget and apparently with the human factors as well.
    As it’s getting to be Prom time, PLF would seem an ideal setting given their nouveau offerings and the intimate like setting, not to mention prices well within a young man’s or woman’s budget!
    “Chow!”

    April 12, 2014 at 8:46 PM
  • Bruce Schor says:

    Congrats, Bob-a-lou,
    After reading, re-reading and reading one more time for good measure I didn’t see one LOL, Albeit, Bahston or other Bobism.
    Are you OK?
    An epiphany
    A mini TIA rewiring?
    But it’s all good, I actually understood its thrust.
    I think tho you’re a bit out of touch with prom goers.
    PLF is never going to be anywhere near the top of their lists.

    April 13, 2014 at 11:23 AM
  • BOTVOLR says:

    (Alas) El Brute (per) your re-readings, ya missed those 2! “Be that as it may”, I am indeed hip or hep re today’s Prom-goers, given my G-daughter is betwixt and between choosing to be taken to her own prom at T a m a y a vs. accepting another invite to “another” school’s.

    Re PLF: While my 3 rationales might seem old-fashionedly conservative, I kinda hoped the suggestion kicked readers into gear to have their kids/G-kids see PLF as a possibility just because of that as actually being the funky/in/edgy place to be! Maybe even offer to pick up the tab!…LOL Partly what came to mind dining the other night, was being excited earlier this year seeing several couples eagerly crowding into Joe’s PH for some kind of Winter-Dance which brought a tear to my eye per my memories of sooo enchantingly swaying to music like this http://tinyurl.com/c3wwfv6 of Olde at Proms, per those kids recognizing a great place…even tho some folks might erroneously say “dated”….when the kids must’ve seen it before!
    ~ (Re) your speaking of claiming to be in-the-know/sophisticated to what’s “in” today El Brute, are you even up on what today’s amenities are for going to prom??? I think not! Your Senior Prom’s date’s Folks graciously sent me this (remarkedly preserved!) 8 millimeter Kodak remembrance: Scroll down just a tad to Click on the video herein http://tinyurl.com/plcrzxl As it stands, it is amazing how you managed later on to get even close to such a wonderous Squeeze like Lady Graycee!!!! Feel free to get up off your como se lama right now to offer your hand to Graycee do a little swaying to Glenn!

    April 14, 2014 at 4:56 PM
  • Bruce Schor says:

    Heeeeee’s back!
    Sway to Glenn? And you’re not talking about Frye! Grayce would shake her head in utter amazement at your misconception of her musical tastes. Cold Play, not cold Papst Blue Ribbon. Beyonce, not beyond belief. She’s a rocker , not an alte cocker. (Look it up in your English Yiddish dictionary).
    Hip, hep, or hop, you my friend are as current as a Model T, albeit, or be that as it may an old not restored version.
    Let me repeat, PLF has as much chance of being a Prom goers destination of choice as I have of becoming a tri-athlete. None.
    And thanks for all the Bob-isms. You had me worried.

    April 15, 2014 at 7:50 AM
  • Melodie K. says:

    Happy to have found your post!

    Viewed RI’s Passion Latin Fusion episode for the first time earlier this week and Chef Elvis and Monica Bencomo, in their opening comments, blew me away with their enthusiasm and love. For each other and the food.

    Even before Chef Robert did his revamp, many of PLF’s dishes already looked as beautiful as the ones pictured here. And it was also clear, whatever problems the restaurant had, bad-tasting food was NOT one of them.

    Love the interior redesign and looking forward to traveling north (from LC) soon for the Cuban sandwich featured on the program and the Pasion Fruit Salsa . . . are those mango chunks I see in there?

    April 17, 2014 at 10:14 PM
  • BOTVOLR says:

    Aug 14 etc.? Congrats! Check it out http://www.pasionlatinfusion.com/

    August 5, 2014 at 3:57 PM

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